MLB Prospects: The Hottest/Coldest Hitters in the Offseason Winter Leagues
Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
Amidst the swirling trade rumors coming out of the Winter Meetings and the looming Rule 5 Draft on Thursday morning, it’s easy to forget that there’s still baseball being played.
Granted, it’s not as easy to stay on top of as the Arizona Fall League, but the Caribbean Winter Leagues currently house some of game’s best and more intriguing prospects.
With less than a month left of games in the Dominican, Mexican, Venezuelan and Puerto Rican winter leagues, it’ll be interesting to follow which prospects carry their offseason success into Spring Training, and, in turn, how it affects their Opening Day assignment.
Here’s a look at both the hottest and coldest hitters from each of the aforementioned leagues.
Dominican Winter League
SS Junior Lake (Cubs)
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Junior Lake, SS, Chicago Cubs: .331/.400/.484, 11 XBH (4 HR), 9 SB, 37/12 K/BB (36 G)
One of the game’s more frustrating prospects continues to, well, frustrate with a strong performance in the DWL; last 10 games: .297/.409/.486, 9 R, 2 HR, 3 SB, 13/6 K/BB.
Oscar Taveras, OF, St. Louis Cardinals: .303/.377/.475, 22 R, 12 XBH (4 HR), 16/13 K/BB (32 G)
Taveras is the Cardinals’ top prospect, not to mention the top hitter in the minor leagues, just doesn’t stop raking; last 10 games: .297/.386/.459, 4 XBH, 5/6 K/BB.
Rafael Ynoa, MIF, Los Angeles Dodgers: .364/.364/.636, HR, 6 RBI 4/0 K/BB (4 G)
Ynoa is enjoying a hot start to the DWL after posting an .889 OPS with 10 extra-base hits and seven stolen bases in 27 games.
Marcell Ozuna, OF, Miami Marlins: .221/.279/.471, 18 XBH (8 HR), 4 CS, 38/9 K/BB (36 G)
Even though he’s collected eight home runs in 36 games, Ozuna’s plate discipline has been ugly; last 10 games: .139/.139/.167, 12/0 K/BB.
Jurickson Profar, SS, Texas Rangers: .158/.238/.263, 2 XBH, 7/4 K/BB (15 G)
Nagged by a fatigued arm and shoulder, Profar’s playing time had steadily decreased over the last two weeks until he and the organization decided to call it a season following an 0-for-3 performance on Nov. 30.
Christian Bethancourt, C, Atlanta Braves: .245/.269/.306, 3 2B, 5/2 K/BB (19 G)
Making up for lost time after a broken left hand prematurely ended his 2012 season, Bethancourt’s bat is still lifeless; his lack of hard contact, plate discipline and inability to drive the ball with consistency definitely worries me.
Mexican Winter League
C Sebastian Valle (Phillies)
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Sebastian Valle, C, Philadelphia Phillies: .224/.281/.362, 4 XBH, 21/4 K/BB (19 G)
Valle has seen limited playing time over the last two weeks, probably because he’s batting .185/267/.185 with 11 strikeouts over his last 10 games.
Christian Villanueva, 3B, Chicago Cubs: .184/.293/.367, 9 H, 5 XBH, 23/6 K/BB (21 G)
Last 10 games: .182/.333/.409, 3 XBH, 11/4 K/BB
Although he’ll still likely start the year at Double-A Tennessee, Villanueva hasn’t helped his case this winter and has four hits in his last 22 at-bats.
Ali Solis, C, Pittsburgh Pirates: .183/.247/.220, 3 2B, 20/6 K/BB
After reaching the major leagues last season, Solis has collected only 15 hits with 20 strikeouts in 25 games this offseason; last 10 games: .167/.242/.200, 10/3 K/BB.
Puerto Rican Winter League
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Eddie Rosario, 2B/OF, Minnesota Twins: .353/.382/.569, 5 XBH, 10 RBI, 13/3 K/BB (14 G)
After an 0-for-14, five-game skid, Rosario has gone 12-for-22 with three home runs and 10/2 K/BB over his last five games.
Carlos Correa, SS, Houston Astros: .273/.314/.333, 2 2B, 9/2 K/BB (12 G)
After a slow start to regular and winter-league seasons, the first overall draft pick from 2012 is 5-for-10 with a double and one stolen base over his last five games.
Yasiel Puig, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers: .276/.300/.414, 2 XBH, 11/1 K/BB (8 G)
Puig has hit safely in five of eight winter-league contests, though he’s only struck out 11 times.
Jorge Alfaro, C, Texas Rangers: .292/.303/.446, 5 XBH, 16/1 K/BB (18 G)
After a hot start, the 19-year-old catcher has struggled over his last 10 games, batting .235/.235/.324 with 12/0 K/BB
Reymond Fuentes, OF, San Diego Padres: .188/.235/.188, 4/1 K/BB (5 G)
Now with his second PWL team, Fuentes continues to struggle at the plate as he’s now 5-for-39 this offseason.
Venezuelan Winter League
3B Wilmer Flores (Mets)
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Evan Gattis, C/OF, Atlanta Braves: .280/.339/.503, 17 XBH (9 HR), 25/12 K/BB (41 G)
Gattis is currently riding a seven-game hit streak with three extra-base hits in his last four games.
Oswaldo Garcia, OF, Minnesota Twins: .260/.324/.465, 13 XBH (6 HR), 32/12 K/BB (38 G)
The 21-year-old outfielder is red-hot over his last four games: 8-for-18, HR, 6 RBI.
Wilmer Flores, 3B, New York Mets: .285/.353/.445, 14 XBH (4 HR), 19/13 K/BB (35 G)
He’s been streaky so far this offseason and has cooled off as of late, but continues to show improved plate discipline and with extra-base potential.
Rafael Ortega, OF, Colorado Rockies: .309/.390/.368, 4 XBH, 8/9 K/BB (29 G)
After making jump from High-A Modesto to MLB last season with the Rockies, his success has carried over into the Venezuelan league where he owns a .941 OPS over his last 10 games.
Brandon Short, OF, Chicago White Sox: .160/.192/.280, 3 2B, 7/0 (7 G)
Limited to only 22 games during the regular season due to injury, Short made 10-game stops at both High-A Winston Salem and Double-A Birmingham before finishing the year with two games at Triple-A Charlotte; hasn’t played since Nov. 29 but struggled over seven games.